by CHRISTOPHER LOCKE

Love is not a maiden with apple
buffed hair. No. Love is eating
a bite of wild salmon and swallowing
your dental bridge in the process,
three jagged teeth slipping down
your throat as wordlessly as a newt
into water, and you waking at four
a.m. to the bridge tearing through
you, pressing the wall of your large
intestine the way heat presses the cruel
arc of a scorpion tail, doubled-over, fire
blooming in great bursts from you, small
sounds working pebbles of air between
your lips, eyes X’d out like a child’s
sketch of death, until it passes, and then
the long remainder of sitting, fearful
movement will trigger more pain until
what is there to do but get up, wash
your hands, and walk back to bed
where she is waiting in the tender dark
to hold you, her soft rung of hair so close
you can smell its slight, apple scent.

(this poem first appeared in ASCENT and VERSE DAILY)